The cinematic world was changed forever when Twilight came along in 2008. Since then, Hollywood has been experiencing an unprecedented love affair with Young Adult books. As a result, we’ve seen an abundance of YA adaptations hit the big screen, from Beautiful Creatures in 2010 to The Maze Runner Trilogy in 2014.
While the appeal of these stories is undeniable, there is one significant difference between the worlds of Twilight and The Spectator that viewers need to keep in mind: the gender proportions.
Let’s take a look-see at how the audience for these films compares to the novels that inspired them, shall we?
More Women Than Men
If you take a look at the top grossing films of 2017, you’ll see that women made up the majority of the audience. According to research from the University of Southern California, nearly 70% of people who saw the latest Harry Potter installment were females. Similarly, the audience for the latest Twilight movie was 58% female.
In an interview with The New York Times, J.K. Rowling revealed that she based the characters of Albus Dumbledore and Nicholas Fry on male friends of hers who she felt strongly resembled the fathers of Harry Potter and Twilight. In doing so, she revealed that it wasn’t until after the original books were published that she began to appreciate how much of an impact her stories would have on female readers. While it’s great that Rowling’s novels encouraged more women to read, it’s important to remember that male readers were also greatly affected by these books.
More Adult Content
In comparison to the source material, Young Adult fiction is often categorized as “kid-friendly.” That is because the books are often designed to be accessible to young readers and are considered to be on the more sophisticated end of the reading spectrum. For instance, the Twilight saga features more sexual content and language than Harry Potter, yet it has a higher rating on Netflix.’s popular animated show, Bojack Horseman.
If you compare the film adaptation of John Grisham’s The Streetlawyer to the book, you’ll see that there are several differences. For one, the film is considerably less graphic. While it doesn’t shy away from showing some sexual tension between the leads, it ultimately resolves with a very traditional marriage. In the book, however, there is definitely a lot more flirtation and the characters are much more exploratory about sex.
No Hetero Romance
In most cases, Young Adult novels will feature at least some kind of romantic storyline. This can range from a traditional ‘boy meets girl’ story to a more diverse array of relationships that reflect the real world. In 2017, an unprecedented number of YA novels centered on non-heterosexual romance, with a total of 15 novels featuring same-sex relationships.
Even more impressively, according to research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 39% of students reported that it was “a little surprising” to see a novel with a non-heterosexual romance, while 31% said it was “not at all surprising.”
What this suggests is that young people are slowly but surely accepting that sexuality can vary and that there are more ways than ever to love and be loved. The more we as a culture can do to promote inclusivity and identity, the better. It’s also significant that more novels are centering on these relationships, as it implies that there is significant demand for Young Adult stories that feature LGBT+ characters.
A Variety Of Ethnicities
While it’s great that so many YA novels are uniting different communities, it’s also important to acknowledge the impact that these stories can have on readers of different backgrounds. In 2017, a total of 22.8% of people who watched the latest Transformers movie were African-American, while 7.7% were Latino.
According to USC, 70% of people who saw Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and the latest Twilight movie were Caucasian. This mirrors the demographics of the United States, which is 84% Caucasian and 12% Latino. That is not to say that non-Caucasian characters aren’t featured heavily in the stories, but these are often peripheral to the main plot. In terms of diversity, the movies in the Harry Potter series tend to have more in common with each other than they do with the source material.
A Trend Toward More Realistic Settings
In the past, YA novels would often take place in an alternative universe, or one that isn’t entirely recognizable as our own. For example, the Hunger Games takes place in a future where humans have been devastated by a plague that forces them to fight to the death. Or, there’s Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which features Harry Potter attending Hogwarts School in the Dominican Republic, where Harry’s mother Sylvia was born and raised.
However, in recent years, this trend has begun to change. In 2017, only 26% of Young Adult novels took place in an alternative universe or in a futuristic setting, the lowest share since before the breakout success of the Twilight series in 2008.
More Of An Unexpected Ending
While Young Adult novels will always end on a high note, it’s also important to acknowledge the impact that these stories can have on readers. After the adrenaline rush of the chase scene, readers of a Nicholas Fry mystery will be rewarded with a twist ending that completely changes the narrative of the entire novel. The same goes for several of the Harry Potter stories and the latest Twilight installment.
In terms of keeping the interest of existing fans and enticing new audiences, these unexpected endings can help a great deal. While the audience for these stories tends to be significantly larger than that of the average novel, many Young Adult readers will have experienced the shock of discovering an incongruous twist at the end of a book.
A Shift In The Mainstream Appeal
If you ask anyone who has spent any time in a bookshop in recent years, they will almost certainly tell you that Young Adult fiction is now firmly ensconced in mainstream culture. According to the American Booksellers Association, 2017 was a record-breaking year for the category with both adult and kid demographics showing a marked preference for YA stories. While this is undoubtedly good news for the industry, it also means that the stories that comprise this category will inevitably become less distinctive.
For years, YA novels have been categorized as a sub-genre, a descriptor that is slowly being phased out. According to the American Association of Advertising Agencies, future book buyers are being influenced by today’s cultural influences and are much more likely to be exposed to a variety of content.
Regardless of the differences between the worlds of Twilight and The Spectator, there is one thing that fans of both should appreciate: the lasting impact that these stories have had on readers and the world at large. While many may argue that Young Adult fiction is ‘just’ for kids, it is clear from the tens of thousands of novels that have been published over the last decade that there is a significant adult audience that has been captured by these authors.